PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Since changes were implemented to the way Emergency Medical Service providers care for cardiac arrest patients, EMTs in Portland have seen a significant increase in survival rate.
The Portland Fire Department meets with their medical director, Dr. Matthew Sholl every month to look over some of the toughest calls they've faced, including cardiac arrest calls. The goal is to learn from and improve on their response time.
The new protocol tells first responders to leave a patient right where they are and immediately perform CPR. If after 20 minutes, the patient still does not have a regular heart beat, they leave the patient there and call either the medical examiner's office or a funeral home; no more transporting to a hospital.
Dr. Sholl says they've learned over the years that immediate and effective chest compressions are the most effective way of restarting a heart and moving a patient will only hurt them more.
Technology is also on the side of the Portland Fire Department's rescue crews. Each ambulance has a mobile monitor that hooks up to a patient during CPR that tells the EMT how effective each compression is - so no time is wasted.
The main reason for adjusting the protocol was that in the event of cardiac arrest, every second counts. Dr. Sholl says it's vital for any bystanders to immediately start CPR. For more information on the proper way to give chest compressions, click here.